iTunes, Movies Anywhere, and SD

There was a time when I had not yet embraced our digital-only future.

I still bought Blu-ray discs. Like a caveman, I would search through my mostly organized Blu-ray and DVD jewel cases, find a movie I wanted to watch, open the case, take the disc out, open the Blu-ray player, put the disc in the tray, close the tray, and wait.

When I put The Bourne Legacy’s disc into our Blu-ray player, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t play.

My wife wanted to watch The Bourne Legacy.

Our hero

The disc wasn’t playing.

I grabbed the jewel case, walked to the basement, opened iTunes or whatever obscure URL the coupon in The Bourne Legacy’s jewel case wanted me to open, and redeemed the code for the digital copy of The Bourne Legacy.

Then I walked back upstairs, changed the TV input to the Apple TV, and played the movie.

It was as if the disc worked.

But I could watch it on my phone. I could watch it in the basement without lugging the disc around (like a caveman).

A short time later, I went through all my DVDs and Blu-rays, looking for digital codes to redeem. Some had expired. Some had expired but worked anyway.

As I looked over my new iTunes movie library, I noticed that some of the films were HD and some were not. This was annoying and disappointing and would cause me to re-purchase some films in HD.

I believe I owned the following films on iTunes in SD format:

    Cowboys and Aliens
    Jurassic Park
    Jurassic Park III
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    Super 8
    Terminator Salvation
    The Town

Now, as of April 2018, I can only find the following SD films in my iTunes library on my up-to-date gen 3 Apple TV and on my up-to-date iPhone 7:

    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Super 8

In iTunes on an up-to-date Mac, these films appear to be SD:

    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Super 8

The fact that two films are HD on two devices and SD on one seems like a bug to me.

(Technically I can find Inception in SD, but I later purchased it in HD. It appears twice in my library. I upgraded Prometheus, too, but the SD copy is no longer in my library.)

Limitless was distributed by Relativity Media. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Super 8 were both distributed by Paramount. What do these two film studios have in common? In what way would they be linked that is relevant in the 2018 digital film library landscape?

Movies Anywhere.

Name two film studios that aren’t participating in the Movies Anywhere initiative as of April 2018. Relativity and Paramount. Sure, there are others. I just don’t own any of their movies.

This makes me extremely curious. This is too much to be a coincidence.

The first thing I wonder is: If I were to buy an SD film on iTunes that is available in Movies Anywhere, would it show up in Movies Anywhere? Would it upgrade to HD in my iTunes library? Seems unlikely. Apple wouldn’t leave a loophole that big.

Are SD films upgraded to HD only if they were in a user’s iTunes library before Movies Anywhere started?

Here’s what I think is most likely: Apple/iTunes keeps track of which films a customer purchased on iTunes and which films a customer redeemed with a code. If a code redeemed an SD copy and that film becomes available in Movies Anywhere, it is upgraded to an HD copy.

If my theory is correct, the moment that Paramount or Relativity join into Movies Anywhere, I should have fewer SD films in my iTunes library.

iTunes, Movies Anywhere, and SD

Star Trek Into Darkness and Physical Media

I really liked Star Trek Into Darkness.

For some reason I had middling expectations going in. It didn’t do quite as well as its predecessor, 2009’s Star Trek, in North America. This informed my opinion. I really liked the 2009 film, and had expected a Pirates of the Caribbean style “box office take of each movie reflects audience appreciation of previous film in franchise” explosion. It didn’t happen. I concluded that Into Darkness must have had something wrong with it.

I saw the previews. It looked like the USS Enterprise got destroyed. My brain replayed a remembered or imagined fanboy’s voice: “How many times can you destroy the Enterprise?” Another question, too dark even for my inner dialogue to whisper: “Is this the film that ends the new Star Trek franchise?”

No, it’s not. Into Darkness is really good. I don’t know why more people didn’t go to see it. I need to watch it a couple more times, but currently I believe I like it better than the previous film. And I really liked the previous film!

Okay, time for side note/personal trivia/minutia that no one except me cares about. The previous film — 2009’s Star Trek — was the first movie I bought on Blu-ray. For years I had held out. I had decided that it wasn’t a big enough jump from DVD, and the next format I was going to adopt was digital download. I had already gone digital with music; I hadn’t bought a CD in years.

Then I bought a PS3. In 2009, when Sony released the Slim model. Suddenly I had a Blu-ray player. Then I saw Star Trek for sale at Walmart … and the Blu-ray was less expensive than the DVD.

My theory is that the some industry was trying to push consumers toward the bright Blu-ray future. Maybe it was the Blu-ray consortium. Maybe it was retailers. Maybe it was both. I went for it hook, line, and sinker.

Somehow I had never redeemed a digital copy of a movie. Today, I can’t remember what my reasoning for this was. After Christmas of 2012, sitting in my basement, I decided to redeem all of the digital copies I had previously ignored. Some had expired. Some I was able to redeem despite their expiration date having passed.

Several weeks later, my wife and I were going to watch The Bourne Legacy. I took the Blu-ray disc out of its case and pushed it into our Blu-ray player. No dice. It wouldn’t play. I took the disc out and looked at it, then put it away. I took the HDMI cable out of our Blu-ray player and put it into our Apple TV. We then watched the film with no issue. That was the moment I decided I don’t need media anymore.

Steam. Digital PC games. It’s great. There are no boxes to take up space. There are no discs to take up space. I rearranged the media center in our basement about a month ago, and now I have all these DVDs and Blu-rays with no place to put them. I already sold the majority of my Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii games — but I still own the games I purchased digitally. I’ll probably hold onto my 360 and PS3 because I have digital libraries. I can store those systems with very little footprint, and bring them out if I feel nostalgic. (This is a hypothetical future. I own several 360 and PS3 games that I haven’t finished yet.)

So I had made the decision to go digital only. Then Star Trek Into Darkness came out on iTunes before DVD and Blu-ray. And I missed this film — the first film I was really looking forward to that I missed because my wife was very pregnant and didn’t want to do much of anything (I still love you Julie). So I bought it. On iTunes.

So 2009’s Star Trek was the first film I purchased on Blu-ray, and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness was the first film I purchased digitally, on iTunes. They’re sci-fi movies set in the future.

Now I plan on buying or receiving as gifts two more Apple TVs — one for each remaining TV in our home. I wouldn’t mind if Apple announces a new model next month. I’ve got to sell off these DVDs, Blu-rays … and CDs? Digital — I’m in!

Star Trek Into Darkness and Physical Media

Nuke the Fridge … to the Future?

If you haven’t seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you may not be familiar with the phrase “nuke the fridge.”  In the film, Indy finds himself on a nuclear test site in Nevada and climbs into a lead-lined refrigerator to survive the blast.  The phrase has been adopted by popular culture and has a meaning similar to “jump the shark.”

I recently read the Wikipedia article on Back to the Future.  From the section on the film’s development:

Originally, Marty was a video pirate, the time machine was a refrigerator, and he needed to use the power of an atomic explosion at the Nevada Test Site to return home.  Zemeckis was “concerned that kids would accidentally lock themselves in refrigerators”, and the original climax was deemed too expensive.

The footnotes seem to indicate that this information comes from Empire magazine, but I couldn’t find the article.

Steven Spielberg produced the three BTTF films.  He also directed the four Indiana Jones movies.  Did he pluck this (previously) impractical scene from an old project?  Who knows.

Nuke the Fridge … to the Future?

New DVDs

So for Christmas — hold it. I must be watching too much Colbert Report, because every time I let it slip that I celebrate Christmas, I feel like I’m alienating prospective readers, or at the very least being politically incorrect. Anyway.

For Christmas I got several DVDs. More or less alphabetically: 8 Mile, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Batman Begins, Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and War of the Worlds.

Of all the extra DVD features, I’ve looked at two things: Episode III deleted scenes and a documentary on the new Batmobile.  Both of those movies are awesome, but I feel like the primary Batmobile sequence didn’t grab me like it did in the theater.  Maybe it’s the newness when you see a movie for the first time.  I still cringed when Anakin turned to the Dark Side, but this time I knew how he was going to do it.  I still enjoy all the parts of War of the Worlds, but it’s still missing a climax.  At least when I watch it in my apartment or my parents’ house there isn’t a lady with her three noisy kids sitting 4 seats away.  (I shushed them, FYI.)

I think out of them all I want to dig deeper into the Batman stuff.  Star Wars is great, but I’ve been watching making ofs of that for six years now.  Yoda looks better now than ever, by the way.

New DVDs

Batman Begins and War of the Worlds

Within the last four days, I saw both War of the Worlds and Batman Begins with Steph. Four words.

Batman. Begins. Was. Awesome.

Now I’m not gonna rip on War of the Worlds (necessarily). It was good. But I just didn’t think it was great. For one, I think it was missing basic plot elements, like a climax.

Batman Begins, however … I loved it. Halfway through the movie, I was watching one particularly good sequence, thinking, “This movie is awesome.”

The sequence I speak of was when Batman was driving the batmobile (with a passenger) back to the batcave, and he had to go through a tunnel. The sequence through the tunnel … made me want to play the tunnel level in Halo 2. I have never before watched a scene in a movie that made me want to play a video game. One sequence in Batman Begins made me want to play one level in Halo 2. All I can say is … awesome.

I actually have no complaints about Batman Begins. I have questions about the ending, which I believe was the filmmakers’ intent. I don’t want to spoil it, which may lead me to create a Batman Begins discussion page on par with my Star Wars discussion page. (I may do the same for War of the Worlds, but for fewer reasons and with less enthusiasm.)

So … if you’ve seen Batman Begins, go see War of the Worlds. If you’re choosing between the two … go see Batman Begins.

Batman Begins and War of the Worlds

I’m going to lightsaber your ass like General Grievous

I just set up a Star Wars Discussion page.

As I explain on that page, I’ve discussed Episode III with Steph, Brown, and the old man. But way back in the summer of 2001, Smiz had the WCIFT forums up, and Morash and I discussed several films over that forum, including American Pie 2 and Planet of the Apes.

I’d like the Star Wars page to use a threaded comment structure. I found a plugin for it , but I want to maintain the traditional, nonthreaded structure for the majority of, and that plugin implements the change system wide (from what I can tell). Maybe someone knows of a method to implement it on a case-by-case basis.

Anyway, check it out or Brown will come and get you.

I’m going to lightsaber your ass like General Grievous

Episode III

Last night Steph and I went to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at the midnight Wednesday (first) show.

There were a lot of dorks. The theater was packed. We got there around 10:45 and the theater looked to be half full by then. And it was showing on two screens. There were a lot of lightsabers. There were also a few people in Jedi robes, one guy with a Vader mask. No stormtroopers.

The row in front of us was filled entirely with one group of high school kids that knew each other, and they had one more person than seats. You’d think they were in a foreign country the way they didn’t know what to do.

Once the movie started, there was a lot of clapping. People clapped for A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … People clapped for the yellow-outlined Star Wars logo. There was applause for when the yellow introduction text scrolled up and away from the audience, but it quickly died as hundreds of dorks with glasses leaned forward to read everything, and to see over the head of the person in front of them becaues they were doing the same thing.

People clapped when they saw wookies. They clapped when Yoda did anything. I’d say everyone in the theater missed three lines of dialogue due to applause, but I don’t think that they were crucial lines.

The movie. Before I discuss any specifics or details, let me just say that the entire time I was awake in bed both before I fell asleep last night and after I woke up today, all I could think about was Episode III. And it’s not like I was making an effort, either. I just keep thinking about it. And now that all the films are done, there is no more, “I wonder if” or “I wonder how.” Now there is stuff like, “So in Episode IV, when Obi-Wan says …” Also, the movie clocked in at 2:10 or 2:20. There was a lot to see, and a lot to take in. I’ll admit that toward the end, my butt was getting uncomfortable in my seat. But at that point in the film, I don’t feel that there was a lot of boring exposition, and I was genuinely interested in how everything played out.

It’s rated PG-13. I noticed right away that the actual physical lighting was darker, and that stayed true throughout. There is definitely stuff in there that is more frightening and intense than in the other five films.

Did I say specifics and details? Maybe I’ll save them.

Episode III

Matrix Reloaded and TechTV

Geek post today. I came across two short articles at Cnet today.

The first article is about The Matrix Reloaded. In the film, Trinity hacks into a Unix machine with actual open source programs rather than with cheesy visual effects often used in film. The cool part is, the haXXor who wrote one of the programs didn’t know his work was going to be used until he saw the film in a theater. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you wrote a program and it showed up in a Matrix movie?

The next article was about TechTV. It says that the channel reaches 40 million homes, but only about 40,000 people watch it every day. Forty thousand? During my senior year of college I watched Call for Help almost every weekday. Morash would often watch it with me … I know Smiz likes it. So that’s three. There’s got to be about 1,000 people who go to RIT who watch it every day. At least. Then there’s the cast and crew … that’s gotta be another hundred. Then there’s all their parents. That’s like another 200. I’m already up to 1,300. How many people go to RPI? Ten thousand? Well there’s another 10,000. So that’s 11,300 people. And that’s only a couple people in New York and California. If I were to keep this up I’m sure I could get to a million daily viewers.

Matrix Reloaded and TechTV